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A scene from Slumdog Millionaire
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'The extremes in Mumbai are shocking'

How else did you prepare to work in Mumbai?

Danny suggested I spend at least a week in the city before the shoot. I walked around a lot and I could see how different my London walk was. I had to watch how people in Bombay walked and went around doing their business. I lived there like an ordinary person. I walked a lot, travelled by the local trains and ate at the busiest restaurants. Danny also took me to the actual locations, including the slums, where we would be working.

The extremes in Mumbai are shocking. The slums do not have good running water or toilets. Yet, I found there were communities in the slums; people were looking out for each other and helping each other to rise above the poverty.

What did you tell yourself as you prepared for the shoot?

I thought about how I wanted to make the experience [of going around Mumbai and reading Maximum City] help me give an in-depth performance. Being on the locations helped me to build a good background for Jamal and see where he'd grown up. Danny would keep throwing challenges at me all the time.

What kind of challenges?

At one point, Danny saw a few kids playing the drums on the street. They were preparing for the Ganesha festival. He asked me to turn my T-shirt inside out, because it had a big logo on it, and said, 'Join them!' I was like, 'What?!' but he was sure.

The kids knew I was an outsider but they must have thought I was a tourist. They got someone to translate from Marathi, put the drum on me, and asked me to join them. And I started drumming and dancing.

What else concerned you most about your work?

I knew I was going to have many scenes with Anil Kapoor and a few crucial scenes with Irrfan Khan. I kept praying that I should not do anything that would affect their work.

Also See: Making Slumdog Millionaire truly Indian

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